SEO Glossary / Local Citation

Local Citation

What is a Local Citation?

Local citations are online references to a business that feature the business name, address, and phone number, often referred to as “NAP,” found on a website that doesn’t belong to the business. If it does not include all three, it may be referred to as a partial citation.

These citations can appear in local business directories, websites, apps - such as Yellow Pages and Yelp - and social networks.

Since Google’s local algorithm treats NAP information as an indicator of relevancy, citations can be crucial for proving to Google that you’re a legitimate business.

Example of a local citation:

  • Name: The Owl's Book Nest
  • Address: 123 Feather Lane, Owltown, Whispering Woods, 12345, US
  • Phone: +1234567890

Types of Local Citations

There are several different types of citations that are considered relevant for local SEO. The two main categories are:

  1. Structured Citations: Structured citations are the more common type of citation. These are listings that contain the name, address, and phone number of a business and appear on business directories relevant to the industry, as well as third-party websites.

  2. Unstructured Citations: Unstructured citations also contain key information about the business, the difference being that, in this case, the data is not arranged into a listing and is more of a contextual reference to a business. You’ll typically find unstructured citations in news articles, blogs, forums, and online reviews.

Why are Local Citations Important?

Local citations are important because of the key role they play in local SEO. They are regarded as a ranking factor when it comes to local search results.

Relevance and Trustworthiness

When it comes to local search queries, Google’s algorithm will rank businesses in SERPs based on their relevance - and local citations are seen as indicators of relevancy and trustworthiness.

Google Verification

Firstly, as Google bots crawl the web, they’ll pick up on the fact that there are several different, equally reputable websites that list the same information about your business - namely, the NAP details. This will help Google verify that your business actually exists and that the information on your website can be trusted.

Popularity and Relevance

Secondly, the fact that the information about your business appears on all these different online directories could be correlated with your popularity and relevance. In any case, building your local citations may contribute to your business ranking higher for local search queries.

How to Get Local Citations

While it is generally easy to get listed on online directories, building local citations may take time and effort - especially if your business operates within a highly specific or obscure niche. Moreover, not all citations will be equal in value.

1. Submit Your NAP to Major Data Aggregators

The three main data aggregators - in the US, at least - are Express Update, Neustar Localeze, and Factual. Instead of submitting your NAP information to the thousands of different business directories manually, you can claim, manage, or submit a business listing through one of these data aggregators.

2. Submit to Other Relevant Citation Sources

While the main role of data aggregators is to collect information about businesses and distribute it to other websites, they can’t send that information to all relevant websites out there. That’s the main reason why you should consider submitting your business’s NAP information directly to the major citation sources in your country, including:

  • Yelp
  • Yellow Pages
  • Bing Places
  • Foursquare
  • Facebook
  • Apple Maps
  • BBB

3. Submit to Local and Industry-Specific Websites

Next, you should look into hyper-local directories - such as the local Chamber of Commerce and local small business associations - and websites that are specific to your industry. This depends on the industry you’re operating in; you can use this list to find relevant citation sites.

You can start your search for industry-related citation opportunities with a simple Google search; just type in your location along with phrases like “chamber of commerce,” “business association,” or “business directory,” for example.

4. Find Unstructured Citation Opportunities

The methods discussed so far can only help you build structured citations. However, it may be a good idea to try and earn some unstructured citations too. Since these include mentions of your business in blog posts or news articles, it can be hard to find unstructured citation opportunities.

You can try the following:

  • Use Google to find websites of your suppliers, then browse these sites to find pages that list and link to their own suppliers and clients.
  • Check your competitor’s backlink profile using backlink checker tools.
  • Sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to connect with journalists as a source and get cited in their articles.


How do local citations affect SEO?

Local citations improve your business’s visibility in local search results by signaling to search engines that your business is legitimate and relevant to users’ queries.

How often should I update my local citations?

You should update your local citations whenever there are changes to your business information, such as changes in address, phone number, or business name. Regular audits can help ensure accuracy.

Can incorrect citations hurt my local SEO?

Yes, incorrect or inconsistent citations can confuse search engines and potential customers, potentially harming your local SEO efforts. It’s crucial to maintain accurate and consistent NAP information across all citation sources.

By building and maintaining accurate local citations, you can enhance your local SEO, improve your online visibility, and attract more local customers to your business.